My family and I have really fallen in love with a new show on television. After talking with others at work and in the community, it turns out that there are many who don’t miss an episode of this latest reality television offering. What is this show? A&E’s Duck Dynasty, of course.
This show has skyrocketed in popularity. It follows the escapades of the Robertson family. For those of you that may not know, Phil Robertson started making his own duck calls 40 years ago. He has been known for years as the Duck Commander. In fact, that is what the name of his company is called.
The show follows the life and times of some deep-woods, bayou-loving, duck-hunting good ‘ol boys. Needless to say, there are some interesting episodes. Some involve making a redneck waterpark while others deal with samurai swords. The end result is a tremendously popular television show that hits a mainstream audience.
As I was talking to some friends about a certain episode, a thought scurried through my mind. This person that I was talking to and laughing with was not involved in the outdoors at all. This person doesn’t hunt. They don’t fish. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure that they do anything outside except mow their grass. Yet they were still watching a show that talks about hunting. What is going on here?
As I pondered this, I thought about other places where the fishing and hunting lifestyle has snuck into mainstream suburbia. Then it hit me. Look at the widespread reach that all of the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores have.
These mega outdoors stores began as small little mail order businesses. They now sell all the latest and greatest to help us bag the biggest fish and tag the monster bucks of our dreams. The interesting thing is, they are all located right in the middle of urban sprawl.
I frequent these stores often, as you might imagine. There, of course, are myriads of your typical outdoors enthusiasts walking through the aisles. But scattered among the burly men and scruffy beards in the checkout line are those that don’t fit the stereotypical description. Yet they are inspired to get out and try something outdoors related.
Some of them are buying kayaks. Others are purchasing their first fishing pole for a young child. Others are dabbling with walleye fishing. Still others of them are maybe considering buying their first shotgun.
Effectively what has happened between these retail outdoors goliaths and shows like Duck Dynasty is that a fishing and hunting lifestyle is being witnessed by thousands of people that may otherwise know very little about the sport. I’m not saying that new fishing and hunting participants are going to emerge by the droves, but I do believe that there are more people being exposed to our passions.
Some of the things that they see are positive and good for our sports while other things may not be putting our best foot forward. Either way, though, people are watching.
Ten years ago, I could have never predicted that I would be driving into the heart of the suburbs to go and buy some of my favorite plastic lures. I also would have laughed at the thought of the Robertson family having a show about making duck calls that has attracted a gigantic audience. Are you kidding me? What is happening?
It is impossible to tell what the future holds. Will more outdoors shows pop up that are broadcast on mainstream media outlets? Will more suburban shopping centers call Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s their flagship store? We will have to wait and see.
What we can witness, though, is this — people who normally may never think about fishing and hunting are exposed to it in some way or form. It is our job to help make sure that those exposures are positive.